N’GOLO KANTE faces missing the start of the season after suffering a setback with his knee injury.
The midfielder returned home from Chelsea’s pre-season tour and will have rehab on the knee at the club’s Cobham training base.
With less than three weeks until the start of the season it is a major blow to new manager Frank Lampard.
The Blues head coach had wanted to play Kante in one of his team’s two friendlies in Japan but he will now not get any action on the tour.
Ahead of the defeat to Kawasaki Frontale on Friday he did shape work with team-mates but did not take part fully in training.
The 28-year-old France World Cup winner first picked up the problem in his knee at the end of last season when he helped the club win the Europa League.
After flying out to Asia, Lampard said he was hopeful of Kante being fit for the start of the season.
But he is now sweating on one of his key players for the August 11 opener against Manchester United.
Chelsea have agreed to send former England under-21 midfielder Lewis Baker on loan to German club Fortuna Dusseldorf.
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It will be Baker’s seventh loan move in the past five years and there is an option for him to make the deal permanent if the 24-year-old is a hit in Germany.
Baker appeared as a substitute during Frank Lampard’s first friendly match in charge – a 1-1 draw with Bohemians in Dublin – but did not make the cut for their pre-season trip to Japan.
There was interest from several Championships clubs - including Reading, where he impressed last season on loan last season – but Baker, once regarded by Jose Mourinho as Chelsea’s best young talent, has jumped at the opportunity of a new start in Germany.